Last year was a big year for wind energy in Illinois. Illinois led the nation in the number of wind turbines installed in 2011, and was No. 2 in increasing its wind capacity, with 692 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Illinois now stands at No. 4 in the nation with 3,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity in use.

Spokesman Peter Kelley explains why wind is on the rise here. “You’ve got strong winds, close to major metropolitan cities, good power lines that can get the wind power to the cities, and you’ve got interconnections here to two major regional grids, so you can feed power out across the Midwest; you can also feed the Northeastern grid. So that makes Illinois a hot spot for wind development,” he said.

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Wind produces only 2.2 percent of the electricity in Illinois, but that’s expected to grow as state law requires more of the state’s electricity consumption to come from sources other than coal and nuclear.

Also, the association says Illinois has 1,000 jobs at 13 manufacturing firms making the equipment and components used in wind generation.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/